The digital age has revolutionized the way in which marketers reach audiences. Healthcare marketing, for instance, used to produce sufficient results from traditional TV, radio and print ads. However, countless changes to commercial and government insurance programs have created a wide price range split amongst the growing number of available care providers. Long gone is the idea of a town doctor. It its place is a buyer’s market where audiences shop around in preparation of the day they require medical care. A 2013 Google survey found that 96% of prospective patients said reputation is one of the main factors in where they choose to receive care. What does this mean? Hospitals need to care about their brand and reputation as much as the quality of staff and care they provide.
It’s nearly impossible for an organization to be successful without an online presence in today’s market. According to a report in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, 99.4% of hospitals have a social presence, necessitating your presence in the marketplace. When 52% of all healthcare searches begin online, can you afford not to be there?
Strong healthcare marketing starts with a well-designed website. A great healthcare website is built on the same web design basics as any other great site. It will also need several optimized landing pages and a mobile friendly layout. When prospective patients are searching for medical information, 81% of them are expected to click promotional content, as reported by Google in health consumer study. This surpasses many other industries, making it a hospital marketer’s dream. Providers can advertise specific services they offer on WebMD and other similar pages related to illnesses users are searching. With a high click-through rate on ads, the landing pages will bring users directly to more information on how that facility treats it. With over one third of all online searches coming from mobile devices, having a mobile site is a must. A responsive site automatically reformats content to fit on any screen, ensuring an enjoyable experience for users on any device. Google looks favorably upon mobile-friendly sites, meaning a coding change will give your site a nice SEO boost at the same time.
Being online not only improves brand awareness, it also brings some much needed transparency and accessibility to the medical industry. Patients often feel disconnected from their caregivers and trust is a scarce commodity. After all, medicine is the home of the “second opinion” check-up. Patients also rarely know how much they’re paying for care until they’ve received their bill. Offering services such as customer service lines to discuss treatment options is one of many great ways to ensure patients know what to expect.
Once an online presence is established, customer engagement is the next step. A staggering 41% of prospective patients say social media activity is a factor into where they choose to receive care, as stated by the Health Research Institute. Hospitals and other care providers should strive to get their prospective patients interacting with them as much as possible. United Healthcare has received extensive acclaim for their monthly “We Dare You To…” challenge which has users solve puzzles, make diet changes or take quizzes and document it on social media to win prizes. They remove themselves from being simply a healthcare provider and become a voice in the community. This builds brand reputation and keeps them top-of-mind.
Many hospitals are interacting with patients in experimental ways. The Boston Children’s Hospital hopes to save children the fear of another doctor’s visit by offering online second opinions. Parents can input information about their medical history and connect to patient records. Once the request for a second opinion is received, it’s passed around to the top pediatricians who respond directly to the parent. Some doctors have even begun making house calls through virtual appointments. Simple check ins and appointments can lead to reliable online diagnosis and treatment.
Up until this point, the healthcare field has been old fashioned in how it uses technology beyond medical equipment. With so much unexplored territory, hospital marketing is expected to make incredible breakthroughs in patient interaction.
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